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Parque Natural de los Alcornocales in February

Parque Natural de los Alcornocales in February

A WEEK ago, on the 7th of February, Tony and I ventured out to the feeding station for carrion birds on the outskirts of Cortes de la Frontera in Cadiz Province.

Although just 45 minutes away from our village, Montejaque, the climate seemed much more mild. There were hundreds of Griffons circling around the station, a few young ones waiting on tree tops, and a few feeding on remaining scraps of what appeared to be a dead horse. I was surprised by the large number of Crag Martins (Ptyonoprogne rupestris) whizzing about just above station; the insects attracted by the carrion had probably, in turn, attracted them. There was a large, shiny Common Raven picking on a scrap it had carried up to the dead tree just above the wooden hide. Lots of Mistle Thrushes were chasing insects around the carrion. Further down the track we saw a Green Woodpecker and a small, probably young, female Great Spotted Woodpecker.

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The great jungle of heather which surrounds the station and the paths below was in bloom, attracting bees and butterflies. A male Wall Brown settled on the path and a Scarce Swallowtail zoomed by without stopping. However, the relatively numerous Painted Ladies obliged and posed for a few photographs. A cold wind started blowing and the butterflies stayed put, other than a very aggressive male Small Copper which kept chasing me, and anyone else who happened to pass by, out of its small territory on the sandy path. This great heath is a home to the Dartford Warbler; several dived in and out of the vast sea of heather to have a look. A Violet Carpenter Bee hovered very close, allowing me to take several photos.

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